Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana’s largest general farm organization, was born on March 25, 1919. Then known as the Indiana Federation of Farmers’ Associations, the organization was formed by farmers who were determined to work together to solve the problems of low commodity prices and a diminished farm labor force brought on by the U.S. military’s conscription of thousands of farm youth. Although fiercely independent and suspicious of any organized movement, these farmers nevertheless recognized the need to organize to have their voices heard in the halls of local, state and national government.
Today, Indiana Farm Bureau’s purpose is “to be an effective advocate for farmers and through its policies and programs, promote agriculture and improve the economic and social welfare of member families.” Under provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Indiana Farm Bureau operates as a 501(c)5 not-for-profit membership organization.
Indiana Farm Bureau stands for:
- Private enterprise systems.
- Preservation of property rights.
- Balanced federal budget.
- Constitutional government.
- Individual citizenship responsibility.
- Higher net farm income.
- Organized voice without government intervention.
- Resource conservation and environmental enhancement.
- Strong public education.
The basic unit of Farm Bureau is the county Farm Bureau organization, which exists in each of the state’s 92 counties. Each county Farm Bureau has an elected board of directors and officers to conduct the organization’s business.
At the state level, Indiana Farm Bureau is divided into ten geographic regions, or districts, each containing from eight to 12 county Farm Bureaus. Members from each district elect a district director, who serves on the IFB board of directors. The board of directors composed of the ten elected district directors and three elected officers: a president, vice president and 2nd vice president (who must be a woman). The current IFB president is Don Villwock from Edwardsport, Ind.; the current vice president is Randy Kron, Evansville, Ind.; and the current 2nd vice president is Isabella Chism, Galveston, Ind.
The hallmark characteristic of the entire Farm Bureau organization, from the county Farm Bureau to the American Farm Bureau Federation, is its member-driven, grassroots governing structure. Farm Bureau policy is never dictated to members by their elected leaders; rather, policy positions and decisions are first formulated at the county (or sometimes even the township) level and are voted on by the members at an annual meeting. Policies having statewide implications are screened by a resolutions committee (composed of county Farm Bureau presidents and other at-large members), which forwards them to the voting delegates for their consideration at the annual policy-setting meeting in August. Policies having national implications are similarly screened and forwarded to delegates to the annual AFBF meeting in January.
Generally speaking, membership in Indiana Farm Bureau is open to anyone having a direct or indirect interest in agriculture and who pays the annual dues (now set at $32.50). There are two classes of membership: voting and associate. While county Farm Bureaus determine the exact criteria for voting membership, voting members are generally those engaged in production agriculture or who are retired from that vocation. Associate members include all other members.
For more information about the history of American Farm Bureau, please click here.